Area groups partnering to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a growing problem in Duval County, hit hardest are African Americans.
The number of reported AIDS cases in Jacksonville has jumped 17 percent from a year ago.
Several area groups including River Region, Community Rehabilitation Center and the Florida Department of Health are partnering together on an initiative that aims to help stop the spread of both HIV and AIDS. They're working to identify people who have the virus in Jacksonville and provide them with needed services.
"It's not talked about and that's why we don't know," said Janice Murphy.
She's a mother of two and a grandmother of 10. Murphy says she grew up in the church, and was married to a man she loved for 25 years.
"And he chose to go out of our marriage and mess around, and HIV knocked on my door," said Murphy. "If I was educated enough I would have protected myself. But I wasn't."
Murphy is among a growing population of HIV cases in Duval County. Disproportionately 76 percent of newly reported cases among women as of December 2013 were African American, 16 percent were white, 6 percent Hispanic and 2 percent represents other races. For AIDS cases by race black females stood at 79 percent.
"They thought like I thought," said Murphy. "That it could not happen to them. But it could happen to anybody."
After 14 years of living with the HIV virus Murphy decided to step from behind the shadows, admit to herself and others she was infected. She then started Women on a Mission, an organization that includes six women living with HIV who educate people at local churches about the stigma of HIV and AIDS.
"We do have feelings and we do want to be treated like everyone else," said Murphy.
She says she's doing her part and wants everyone else to do theirs.
"Go get tested,' said Murphy. "That's the number one thing. Know your status!"
According to Florida Health the most recent data shows reported HIV cases are slightly down in Duval by 10 percent.
Reported AIDS cases are up from 48 in January through March of 2013, to 56 during that same time in 2014. In the state of Florida as of December 31, 2013 there were 5,830 new HIV cases reported.
If you would like to contact Women on a Mission email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a list of testing sites for the month of April: